Arriving at Mud Bay Park in Surrey British Columbia Canada, the first thing we noticed was the scent of ocean air. Mud Bay is on the north east side of Boundary Bay. Boundary Bay is located between BC and the state of Washington, USA. On this winter day, mostly overcast, there a good breeze blowing. The fresh air feels enlivening. There is a generously sized parking lot, but late in December it is already half filled. On a summer day, the lot would be full with extra parking along the road that leads to the park. The roadway into the park takes you over a level railway crossing and under a freeway overpass. One might expect noise from the freeway to interfere with one's enjoyment but I have never found it distracting once I've left the parking lot.
A short walk will take you from the parking lot to the water's edge. The rail line runs along the eastern side of Mud Bay park and the train bridge stretches out across the water to South Surrey. However, the water here is tidal so how much of the mud flats are exposed depends on the tides at that moment. This particular area is very important to migrating birds on their way from Alaska and the Canadian Arctic to southern regions or on the return journey. Many birds go as far as Central and South America.
The mud flats and eelgrass beds provide much needed food for thousands of birds. To reduce impact on shorebirds, the shoreline trail is closed from October 15 to April 15 to dogs, bikes, and horses. But for those of us on foot, it can be an exciting chance to see shorebirds. Bring your birding book along because as many as fifty species of shorebirds have been recorded in this area.
Mud Bay Park is a well used park from dawn to dusk. The trail follows along the dyke at the edge of Mud Bay, then loops back around near the freeway to the parking lot. However, people are not limited to this loop. The trail continues along connecting with the Boundary Bay Dyke Trail. Tsawwassen is at the other end of this 20.5 km trail. With this in mind, hikers or cyclists can enjoy much more of this scenic area if they wish.
There are several benches along this flat gravel path. And yet it would be nice to have a few more.
Mud Bay Park feels wild and free. At the same time you can notice the freeway, the rail line, and houses visible in the distance. Just behind the dyke running along Boundary Bay, there is natural vegetation. Eagles watch from trees. Signs caution about coyotes. The tangle of blackberry vines along the return loop provides shelter for bunnies and other small critters.
The views from Mud Bay Park include Mount Baker and the San Juan Islands (in the USA) as well as the Gulf Islands (Canada). Because of this, visitors might choose to visit at varying times. For example, it is a special treat to catch a view of Mount Baker at sunrise. On a clear day, off in the distance, some of the San Juan and Gulf Islands are visible. Even when the tide is out, the sun reflecting on the remaining pools of water and wet surface of the mud flats can be stunning. Mud Bay Park is also a fine place to capture photos of the setting sun casting its glow onto the water or sending streaks of colour onto the sky overhead.
There is something calming about a walk by the water. And it is never boring. For example, one never knows what to expect. The tide could be in with the wind creating choppy waves. Or the surface could be like glass, with amazing reflections. Migratory birds might be feeding on the mudflats. It leads one to contemplation or simply appreciation of the views.
As you walk around this 1.4 km loop, and look out into the distance, you become aware that you're on the edge of Canada. Because you get glimpses of the USA, it lends a certain perspective to your walk. It makes it a little out of the ordinary.
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I love all the birding info - so exciting!! I also love your comment - "It is never boring. You never know what to expect ..." It is so important not to dismiss familiar places as boring, because there is always something new to see if we simply take the time to look. This is a great article - it makes me want to visit Mud Bay!
EH Canada Marketing Group I always think of Mount Baker as being "ours" because it's visible from so many points in Surrey.